Above the belt

Above the belt

March 2018, Wed 07

Ultra CIS works to empower forest communities in Ethiopia; boosting their livelihood and tackling deforestation in the last greenbelt before the Sahara.

Living off the land; arguably a luxury for a minority in the West but truly a matter of life and death for the vast majority of rural Africa. Increasingly, this way of – and only means to- life is threatened by land degradation and soil erosion. In Africa, 65% of arable land, 30% of grazing land and 20% of forests have been lost to land degradation. In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that over one quarter of the entire country’s land is degraded, affecting nearly a third of the population – 20 million people.

The Sustainable Natural Resource Management Association (SUNARAMA), chosen by Comic Relief for the ‘Generating Ideas’ grant in 2015/16, aims to safeguard the future for all forest users by helping to mitigate the effects of climate change and strengthen the resilience of dependent communities.

In the last greenbelt before the Sahara, the precious Ethiopian forests – for the local communities and the world – are rapidly depleting. Dominated by Acacia and Boswellia species, the forests are an important source of commercial gums and incenses, including Frankincense and Myrrh. Fair and equitable sharing of forest resources will be implemented; reducing deforestation, over-grazing and the intensive tapping of gum trees.

Through SUNARAMA’s Participatory Forest Management (PFM), local communities will be empowered; increasing household income by 20% and either stopping depletion or actually increasing forest cover. As a key part of PFM, Ultra Electronics CIS will be deploying the latest networking technologies - Ultra CIS Communicate - to farmers and the communities, ensuring they have reliable communications, access to the latest market information and educational materials.

Whilst this market is currently a hotbed of trade malpractices, sabotage and bribing; the big players in the gum and incense market can exploit the local producers. For the first time, they can negotiate a fair price with Ultra’s technology.